Do video games contribute to attention deficit disorder? We've all heard a form of that question before.
First, let's differentiate between ADD (or ADHD) and multitasking. ADD is a serious disorder categorized by an almost crippling ability to focus. It's not a label that can be thrown around haphazardly at people that become bored, are easily distracted, and have many fragmented interests. To me, that's normal. And, like it or not, that's the direction we are heading. At this point in our societal evolution, something that trains us to multitask is a good thing. So get onboard the multitasking mind train, or prepare to be derailed on that one-way track.
Steven Tyler, of Aerosmith and American Idol fame, proudly claims to have ADD. He's not only functional, but highly successful. He found creativity to be his outlet. But even when he's on stage performing, his mind wanders. He actually has a personal sound technician playing cartoon sound effects in his in-ear monitors to keep him entertained while he's performing. The audience, and even his own band, can't hear these wacky sounds. He's singing, dancing, jumping, scatting, interacting, listening to sound effects, checking out the girls in the first three rows, and possibly thinking about what he's going to eat after the show. Steve's an extreme case, and he's extremely successful.
Success, and even basic functionality in today's society, requires multitasking. You and I like do not have severe ADD. What we have are minds that are hungry for input, output, and interaction. We are stimuli junkies.
Here's a "write-bite" of what I believe a normal life is like today: You are preparing dinner while watching TV, mindful to set the DVR for that midnight show while answering a text and formulating a witty reply. At the same time, you glance out the window and notice the grass needs cutting, causing you to access your mental calendar for an opening. Suddenly, a commercial blasts its way to the forefront of your consciousness to herald the new king of burgers, which reminds you supper is ready.
Imagine the kind of multitasking required as an air traffic controller.
I will go on record saying that video games don't cause ADD any more than heavy metal turns one into a serial killer. Video games will, however, train and refine the mind to multitask.
A chess player, at first glance, personifies the perfect ideal of a healthy focused mind. But that mind is a tempest of frenzied neural fireworks, analyzing a plethora of moves and the consequences of those moves, as well as the moves of his or her opponent and the consequences of those moves. This mind has been trained to be properly focused, but encouraged to "go crazy," within those parameters. For the record, Bobby Fischer, the world's greatest chess player, was actually crazy.
Diagnosis of ADD by non-professionals such as teachers is the result of archaic teaching methods used to gauge newly evolved and evolving minds. These minds require new forms of engagement and stimulation. There's no going back to the good old days. These "round" minds don't fit into old "square holes." The system is broken, not these minds.
Video games are the model of the future of not only entertainment, but education. What kid could actually fly a helicopter after reading a textbook? Video games train our minds and help us refine multitasking skills. These are the skills essential to functionality in the future. Video games do not cause ADD, and most people are improperly diagnosed with ADD. If you don't change your definition of ADD, then being ADD is simply the best thing that could ever happen to you.
OMG! I forgot to turn the stove off!
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: May 25, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*